A treat for readers today! A poem by my friend Ken Cathers.



by ken cathers


she had no idea
it would be
this bad. the in-laws

against her
from the start
found nothing right
to like.

inadequate for
promises made
in some far country.

she has come
as payment, already
feels whispers weave

into every sideways

what a maze
the world is.

no one told her
he would be
this cold. inflict

his blunt private
silence. he stands
apart, back turned

in a ceremony


on the plane
she pulls threads
from her dress

unraveling everything
left behind

will arrive in tatters
a new skin
grown like lace

will follow
her husband’s brother
through the first dance

at her own wedding.
the smell of him
as he carefully

steps on her feet
exacting a kind
of payment

& she thinks
there is no chance now
of getting away

never was


6 thoughts on “arrangements

  1. I would like to hear the poet talk about his intentions when writing this poem. What inspired you? What did you want to communicate?


  2. I spent much of my life as a blue collar worker in the forest industry and many of my co-workers were Sikh or Hindu, both religions that practice arranged marriages. As a whole they were a pretty good group of guys. Many were Canadian born and very western in their ways but still had to abide by their family customs and accept a bride, often from another country,in an arranged marriage.

    As is generally the way with any group of people one of them wasn’t such a good guy and in fact was quite a miserable human being. At one point I overheard two young Sikh guys talking about how much they disliked him and his bullying ways and, of course, someone mentioned how some poor girl would be stuck with him because of some marriage contract negotiated years before by her parents.
    It was the first time that I really felt the woman’s helplessness in these situations.

    I think the next element of the poem came from reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s remarkable book called, “Infidel”. In her book Ali illustrated the level of coercion and threat that is imposed on young girls in the cultures that practice arranged marriages and just how difficult it is for them to escape the influence of both family and religion.

    I generally don’t sit down to write a poem about a specific topic. In this case I simply got a verbal phrase stuck in my head: “she had no idea it would be this bad”. What intrigued me about it was that as a fist line it was like the opening gambit in a chess match and could be developed in any number of ways. Of course, at some point it attached itself to the story of the young bride going to meet her unknown groom. From there various stories and anecdotes I had heard about arranged weddings coalesced. Part of the process and difficulty of writing is to select and edit the right details to accentuate one’s premise. I don’t think I set out to make a moral judgement, although one may be implicit, in the poem but rather to show in as visceral a way as possible the conflict and potential for misery in these kind of arrangements.

    Liked by 1 person

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